A Word on Bull Runnings Tours and Live Social Media

9 09 2018

I’ve been getting some inquiries on whether we’ll be providing online video coverage of the upcoming Bull Runnings Artillery Tour. The short answer is no, we will not. Let me explain.

s-l300First, but not foremost, I personally find the use of things like Facebook Live for battlefield programs disorienting and, frankly, physically uncomfortable. With Facebook Live, the floating hearts and smiley faces and comments overflowing the video, combined with shaky camerawork, are borderline seizure inducing. I don’t want to be anyone’s Mary Hart.

The main reason has developed in my noggin in the wake of a recent conversation with a friend and public historian, concerning why I don’t charge a fee for these tours. One of my big motivations in building this site, and in organizing these tours, is to raise the profile of the First Battle of Bull Run. In conjunction with that, I hope these tours raise awareness of the critical role that visiting the field plays in understanding the events that occurred there. You can gain an understanding of these events by reading about them, and looking at maps, but to really get a feel for what happened there, you have to walk the ground. Frankly, even among Civil War enthusiasts, the typical visit to Manassas National Battlefield Park consists of a brief jaunt around Henry Hill and taking a picture with Stonewall. (Maybe they head to Brawner Farm or the Railroad Cut, but those are the second battle.) It’s simple – I want more people to visit this battlefield. I don’t see how providing video coverage of these tours will help bring that about, even if viewership of that coverage might be ego boosting (or deflating, as the case might be).

So, for the foreseeable future, if you want to experience a Bull Runnings Battlefield Tour, you’re going to have to get up and go. Some of you can’t due to other commitments. There will be more tours, the Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise.

While we’re at it, I’d like any of you who intend to attend the upcoming tour on October 20 to please clearly indicate that intention either on the Facebook Event Page by clicking the Going button, or by letting me know via email if you “don’t do The Facebook.” Or leave a comment here. It helps us to plan things better and, well, it’s the decent thing to do.





Bull Runnings Artillery Tour: Reading List

24 08 2018

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Well, interest in the upcoming Bull Run Artillery Tour with guides Craig Swain and myself has thus far been very strong. It’s hard to tell from these numbers, but folks “interested” and “going” on the Facebook Event Page exceed 500. I do ask that if you’re sure you’re going or sure you’re not going, and have clicked the “interested” button there, that you update your status. This gives us an idea of how to plan for this thing.

Craig has provided a reading list for the tour. You should at least look at the bare minimum he suggests, that being Dean Thomas’s Cannons: An Introduction to Civil War Artillery. It’s quick, dirty, and cheap.

Advanced studies include:

Hazlett, James C., Edwin Olmstead, and M. Hume Park, Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War; Ripley, Warren.,Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War.

And here are some of Craig’s blog posts that should help:

6-pdr field guns: https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/artillery/smoothbore-field-artillery/6-pdr-field-guns/
12-pdr field howitzers: https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/artillery/smoothbore-field-artillery/12-pdr-field-howitzers/
Parrott, James, and other rifles: https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/artillery/rifled-field-artillery/

These are Craig’s self described “gold nugget” posts on tactics and employment:

The Role of Artillery: https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/fa-role/
Horses and ammunition: https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/artillery-and-horses/
Barry’s proposal to reorganize artillery in August 1861 (BECAUSE of Manassas): https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/barry-aop-artillery-org-pt1/
In particular the proportion of guns to infantry: https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/barry-aop-artillery-org-pt2/

And if you’re a “manuals” type, here are the key titles, all in the public domain, and all available for free online:

Instructions for Field Artillery, 1861 version… though the 1864 version is acceptable, as it basically adds the technical aspects of rifled guns. Part I, Article I is probably sufficient for most in the audience. But browsing through the rest is advised.
The Ordnance Manual for the Use of Officers of the United States Army. This is the “technical manual”. Don’t recommend a deep read, just be familiar with the table of contents.
The Artillerist’s Manual by John Gibbon. This is a “tactics” manual, published in 1860, and consolidating a lot of “conventional wisdom” of artillery in one place. Recommend a browse reading.
The “other one” – Major Frederick Griffins The Artillerist’s Manual and British Soldiers’ Compendium…. Not of direct importance, but an example of the professional reading that was out there as of 1861, and which was used by men like Hunt, Gibbon, Barry as reference material.

OK, now get to work. There will be a test after the tour.





Bull Runnings Fall Tour – October 20, 2018

1 08 2018

 

Well, if you haven’t guessed by Brick Tamblin’s statement above, the topic for the next Bull Runnings Battlefield Tour will be – artillery! If big guns are your bag, you won’t want to miss a day at Manassas National Battlefield Park retracing the steps of the Union and Confederate artillerists during the First Battle of Bull Run with widely regarded expert Craig Swain and your humble host, me. Same game plan – no fees, everything is on your own (food, lodging, transportation). We’ll meet up at 9 AM on October 20, 2018 and head out onto the field. Dress appropriately – tour is rain or shine.

Expect to discuss all aspects of artillery: gun manufacture and capabilities, tactics of the day, and the action. We’ll also discuss some of the personalities involved. Here’s a little info about Craig:

Craig Swain is a graduate of Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, with a BA in history. Commissioned in the Army after college, he served in Korea, Kuwait, various overseas postings, and finally outside Savannah, Georgia. After leaving the Army, he continued his studies at Missouri State University. He is author of numerous articles appearing in Civil War Times, America’s Civil War, Artilleryman, and other magazines. His blog, To the Sound of the Guns, covers various aspects of the war, but with focus on artillery and the Charleston theater of war. Craig is presently an information technology consultant, working in Washington, D.C.

I’ve set up this Facebook event page where you can express your interest in attending, or you can leave a comment here, or you can send me an email at the address to the right. Keep an eye out hereand on Facebook for updates, reading lists, handouts, and other fun stuff.





Tour Etched (Chemically) In Glass

30 06 2018

We had a modest (15 people) turnout for our tour on June 9, but the small crowd allowed for a lot of back and forth with our guide John Cummings. John managed to convincingly upset a few apple carts full of interpretations of the locations of period photos on the battlefield. All in all, it was a good day.

One of the highlights of the day was a demonstration of the wet plate photography process by Robert Szabo, at the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society in Centreville. First he painstakingly demonstrated the whole process, out of his mobile darkroom right there in the parking lot:

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Robert Szabo and his mobile darkroom

Then he set up the camera for a shot of the group:
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Next, he posed the group near this reproduction winter quarters hut:

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After the exposure (one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand), the magic happened:


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The final product – click on the image twice and you get a super huge version:
Scan





Photography Tour Digital “Handouts” 2

7 06 2018

OK, here are the “handouts” for the Centreville portion of our tour on Saturday. You know the drill: print ’em or download ’em and pass them on to anyone without access. Click the line, and see you Saturday!!!

Centreville Packet





Photography Tour Digital “Handouts”

6 06 2018

Guide John Cummings has provided a digital package of “handouts” for this Saturday’s tour. It’s a big ‘un. 28 page PDF document. You can either print these out, or download them to a mobile device. These handouts are very important and critical for your tour experience. John promises these documents will assist in upsetting the apple-carts he intends to upset. Click the link.

Manassas photo tour package

This packet is for the battlefield portion of the tour. I may be getting another for the Centreville portion, at which time I’ll post those, too.





Photography Tour Update

1 06 2018

I just received notification that the folks at the Manassas Battlefield Trust have rescheduled their John Hennessy led tour at the park from this coming Saturday to next Saturday, June 9th. The same day as our Photography Tour with John Cummings. From what I gather, the MBT tour is essentially the same as the second half of the Bull Runnings tour from two years ago, also led by Mr. Hennessy, covering the approach of Stonewall Jackson’s brigade to Henry Hill. There should be no overlap, and hopefully parking will not be an issue. So, I look forward to seeing you all at 9 AM next Saturday, June 9. Be sure you find us, the Bull Runnings tour, as both tours are set to meet at the same time, in the same place (MNBP Visitor Center).